"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."


Monday, September 28, 2015

Jackson County Commission, Regular Session, FY-2016 Budget Approval

Jackson County Courthouse South Entrance (photo by G. Morgan)

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FY 2016 Approved Budget, Revenue
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FY 2016 Approved Budget, Expenditures


Friday, September 25, 2015

Local Delegation Visits Google Data Center in Lenoir. N.C --Spot on for Blogspot!

Face Book photo, Fair Use Rights for non-profit news reporting. (Photo by Patricia Potter Combs Face Book post & Dr David Campbell) Scottsboro Mayor Melton Potter (left front) and Jackson County EDA Chair Dr. David Campbell (2nd on right) travel to Lenoir, N.C to visit Google Data Center in Lenoir, N.C. If someone could identify all the folks on the flight it would be appreciated.

Jackson County EDA 
Familiar Faces from Jackson County
Jackson County Alabama EDA (EDA photo, Fair Use for non-profit news reporting Sep 24, 2015.)
"Google and the community leaders of Lenior, North Carolina welcomed many of Jackson County's leaders to offer valuable information about what Google will bring to the community and how to prepare for the data center's new location to our area. We appreciate their insight and hospitality!"

Dr Campbell's comments on Face Book, per request, thank you Dr, Campbell: "A group of about 15 local leaders and TVA economic developers visited Caldwell County, N.C. to assess how a Google Data Center has affected the economy, workforce, and educational institutions of that area, Garry. The group met with local elected officials, the community college president, economic developers, local school board officials, other educators, Google officials, and other leaders in order to get information and advice on planning for the Google Data Center in Jackson County. Members of the group will be making presentations about the trip to various organizations and local officials to help assure that Google's Data Center in Jackson County will bring about the maximum positive benefits for our citizens."

-Google's Contribution to the Lenoir, N.C. Area-

Lenoir Data Center

In the community

At Google, we’re committed to playing a positive role in each of the communities in which we operate around the world. Through grant-making and local initiatives, we're working to help businesses, schools, and nonprofits thrive. We're always seeking opportunities for Googlers to share their time and expertise with the local community. Here's a sample of what we're doing in the area.

Google's community contributions by the numbers:

$1.2 billion: Our long-term investment in the Lenoir data center facility.
$3.6 million: Total charitable giving dollars we've donated to nonprofits and schools in North Carolina since 2009.
$1.2 million: Our investment in the waste-processing system funded in collaboration wtih Duke University and Duke Energy.
$110,000: Google WiFi grant awarded to the City of Lenoir to help implement a free downtown WiFi network.  For more info go to: http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/inside/locations/lenoir/community-outreach.html

Google story by Heather Garner of the Clarion, July 21, 2015:  "Approximately a year ago when the Jackson County Commission learned that TVA could potentially shut down Widows Creek, Commissioners immediately began looking for solutions. Their first step was to set a series of meetings with Bill Johnson, President and CEO of TVA. Initially, Commissioners requested that TVA allow Jackson County to use to land for potential industry. When it was discovered that Google was looking, TVA took initiative and contacted them regarding their Widows Creek plant. Google met with TVA and the planning began. A joint effort between TVA, Google and the Jackson County Commission, led to a huge announcement last week. Google along with Governor Robert Bentley, joined Jackson County and TVA officials to announce that Google will be locating a $600 million data center at the TVA Widows Creek plant in Stevenson. Construction will begin in 2016 and will be the first in the United States since 2007. According to Google they will use the existing infrastructure at the plant, currently in its final phase of shut down. Google has acquired a lifetime lease for approximately 369 acres of the TVA property. The center, which will house the servers used for every Google product, will be run off of renewable energy and will employ up to 100 people." http://www.theclarion.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9353:google-data-center-coming-to-jackson-county&catid=42:clarion-rotation-stories&Itemid=142

Google Story by Wes Mayberry of the Daily Sentinel, June 26, 2015: “Selecting the Widows Creek site to build our newest data center came after an extensive search,” Google Director of Operations Gary Demasi, picture below, said when the announcement for this project was made. “The idea of re-purposing a former coal generating site and powering our new facility with renewable energy, especially reliable, affordable energy that we can count on 24/7 with the existing infrastructure in place, was attractive.” http://thedailysentinel.com/feature_story/article_aa7eb456-1c4b-11e5-bd1f-b39a1408974a.html
Google's Director of Operations Gary Demassi, Fair-use photo Linked-In for non-profit news reporting. 

Google's Story on Google's Blogspot 
(That's right, blogspot is spot on!)
Every time you check your Gmail, search on Google for a nearby restaurant, or watch a YouTube video, a server whirs to life in one of our data centers. Data centers are the engines of the Internet, bringing the power of the web to millions of people around the world. And as millions more people come online, our data centers are growing, too.

We’ve recently expanded our data centers in Iowa, Georgia, Singapore and Belgium. And today we’re announcing a new data center in Alabama—our 14th site globally. Read more -  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-power-plant-for-internet-our-newest.html

Greetings from the Irish Rose Bed & Breakfast, Lenoir N.C.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scottsboro City Council Work Session, September 21, 2015 - Rob Carlile Tax Abatement, CDA Issue

Scottsboro City Hall (photo by G. Morgan)

Video City Council Work Session - Part 1 - Agenda Item 6, Rob Carlile Tax Abatement Issue
There are a couple of issues related to this involving the CDA and open meetings act. Further inquiry will need to be conducted. 

Video City Council Work Session - Part 2

Jackson County Commission work Session September 21, 2015 - B.B. Comer Bridge Economic Impact Summary

Jackson County Commission, from Left to Right - Jason Venable, District 2 (R); Stacy Ledwell, District 4 (D); Matthew Hodges, Chair (D); Tim Guffey, District 1 (R); Dennis Miller, District 3 (D) photo by G. Morgan

(click on image for an expanded view)

Note change in budget as reflected on my notes from the commission  meeting. It is expected that next years available funds will be below $7 million dollars.


                          B.B Comer Bridge
Osprey Nest on B.B. Comer Bridge 
(Fair Use for non-profit news reporting - photo from Face Book, B.B. Comer Bridge Foundation - photo by Hank Allen)

It is getting down to the wire regarding the B.B. Comer Bridge Foundation's request to save the bridge or demolish it. Contracts are to be let regarding demolition very soon according to the representative from the Working Bridges group. Money is needed, considerable money to be placed in escrow ( $5 million according to John Cooper of ALADOT ) to cover future demolition, maintenance and risk management in case of failure of the project. Maintenance is another issue regarding the bridge. A former state engineer familiar with the bridge has stated, annual  maintenance will cost from $180 - $250 thousand per annum.

Chattanooga Times Free Press article - http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/sep/20/study-predicts-1-milli3-milliimpact-if-comer/326117/
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Executive Summary of Economic Impact Associated with the B.B. Comer Bridge Project
by Dixon Strategies
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More Info
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2014 Jackson County Demographic Study Comparing Dekalb and Marshall Counties.
Population, sales, manufacturing shipments and Building permits were compared - Jackson County was last in all categories; reason - lack of industrial growth. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Scottsboro City Council Work Session and Regular Session - Budget Report by Mayor, September 14, 2015

(photo by G. Morgan)

AGENDA for work session and regular session
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Mayor Melton Potter presents the Scottsboro City Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 to the Scottsboro City Council. 90% of the budget was approved per law during the regular council session.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jackson County Commission Regular Session and Budget Hearings, Proposed Balanced Budget Listed, September 14 & 15, 2015

Jackson county Courthouse south side,  this entrance is closed. All business and visitors must use the north side secure entrance (photo by G. Morgan)

UPDATE - Sep 15, 2015
1) Jackson County Commissioners announce Courthouse hours: 7:30AM till 5PM Monday thru Thursday (closed on Fridays) 
2) Each Commissioner, including Commission Chair, will reimburse the General Fund 10% of their salary after taxes. Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges, " We are reducing Jackson County employees by 4 hours each week for our next fiscal year, the county commissioners have agreed to provide 10% of our salaries, after taxes, into the commissions general fund." Commissioners Miller and Ledwell stated they will donate back their salaries until the end of 2015 to help fund the jail to avoid staffing shortages and prevention of possible litigation due to an understaffed correctional facility.
3) Proposed Balanced Budget
Revenue -$7,189,692.00
Expenditures -$7,113,326

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BUDGET HEARING SESSION - September 14, 2015

                                AGENDA of September 15 Meeting.
                               (click on image for an expanded view)

VIDEO of September 15, 2015 meeting

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TVA-In Lieu-of-Tax for Jackson County Alabama and the Discretionary Fund Committee

Discretionary Fund Committee meets, maybe for the last time. TVA-in-lieu-of-tax issue not resolved, indecision harms local groups and agencies who depend on the funds to operate.

Clarion Article by Heather Garner 
The Jackson County Legislative Delegation Discretionary Fund Committee met last week for what could be the last time. Committee members Senator Steve Livingston, Representative Ritchie Whorton, Representative Tommy Hanes, Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges, Commissioner Jason Venable and Revenue Commissioner Jeff Arnold were all present for the meeting. Livingston began the meeting by announcing that the discretionary fund account balance was over $1 million and the Legislative Delegation office account was around $69,000. Read more at the Clarion link - http://www.theclarion.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9507:discretionary-committee-meets-&catid=42:clarion-rotation-stories&Itemid=142

Former Jackson County Commissioner Horace Clemmons (photo by G. Morgan)

Former Jackson County Commissioner Horace Clemmons filed law suit against the delegation and members regarding the distribution of the funds.

"Clemmons responded to the new proposed bill and stated “While each bill the Delegation has proposed is better than the last, I still have problems with the latest one. My major concern is not with the bill itself, but the process that got us to the current bill. I have talked to several county and city elected officials and have yet to find one that was consulted. I believe the Delegation has a responsibility to determine what the other elected officials and the public want before passing a law that allocates our tax dollars. I also have an issue with the allocation of office expense and the County Commission Economic Development Fund. On the 2% office expense, I do not believe that it is legal for the Delegation to own a building that was paid for using tax money. I believe that we would all be better served if the County Commission provided office space and personnel for the Delegation. On the County Commission Economic Development Fund, I would only support that if it is clearly limited to support of local businesses. Large chains get plenty of (unneeded) support from State and Federal level. Local businesses are left out in the cold. Further it is worded so loosely that is could probably be used to fund a bond issue.”" Clarion link -  http://www.theclarion.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9498:clemmons-responds-to-most-recent-tva-in-lieu-bill-&catid=42:clarion-rotation-stories&Itemid=142


SCOTTSBORO, Alabama -- State lawmakers from Jackson County have taken the unusual steps of incorporating as a nonprofit and buying an office building on the courthouse square in Scottsboro.  http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/02/jackson_county_lawmakers_passi.html

2011 "In the Boro" article regarding Alabama Attorney Generals Opinion: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2011/03/jackson-county-commission.html

TVA-in-lieu-of-tax Breakdown - http://www.theclarion.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8373:tva-in-lieu-of-tax-breakdown&catid=42:clarion-rotation-stories&Itemid=142

Distribution of TVA-in-lieu-of-tax per Code of Alabama - http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/alcode/40/28/40-28-2

Uneducated, unwise decision making by elected officials - SB468, creation of secrecy: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2013/05/tva-in-lieu-of-tax-distribution-sb468.html

Current Bill before the legislature, SB2 - Action: 2015-09-08 - Read for the first time and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Local Legislation; Pending: House Local Legislation Committee ; Text: Latest bill text (Introduced) [PDF] 
link - https://legiscan.com/AL/bill/HB2/2015/X2

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jackson County Board of Education Interviews for Schools Superintendent Segments

Jackson County Board of Education Web Site Header, cropped - Fair Use Rights for non-profit news reporting.

My blog article on the selection may be found at http://arklite.blogspot.com/2015/08/jackson-county-board-of-education.html

Dr. Bart Reeves was selected as the Jackson County School Board Superintendent last Friday, August 28, 2015 by the school board. in a 3-2 split vote.

Below you will find the five candidates short video segments of their presentations. 

Mr. Eugene Ward

Dr. Hank Allen

Mr. Danny Patterson

Dr. Angela Guess

Dr. Bart Reeves